The parties thus united formed a squadron of two boats and six canoes, with which they performed their voyage in safety down the river, and arrived at Astoria on the 12th of June, bringing with them a valuable stock of peltries.
About ten days previously, the brigade which had been quartered on the banks of the Wollamut, had arrived with numerous packs of beaver, the result of a few months’ sojourn on that river. These were the first fruits of the enterprise, gathered by men as yet mere strangers in the land; but they were such as to give substantial grounds for sanguine anticipations of profit, when the country should be more completely explored, and the trade established.
The Partners Displeased
With M’Dougal.—Equivocal Conduct of
That Gentleman—Partners Agree to Abandon Astoria.—Sale of
Goods to M’Tavish.—Arrangements for the Year.—Manifesto
Signed by the Partners—Departure of M’Tavish for the
The partners found Mr. M’Dougal in all the bustle of preparation; having about nine days previously announced at the factory, his intention of breaking up the establishment, and fixed upon the 1st of July for the time of departure. Messrs. Stuart and Clarke felt highly displeased at his taking so precipitate a step, without waiting for their concurrence, when he must have known that their arrival could not be far distant.
Indeed, the whole conduct of Mr. M’Dougal was such as to awaken strong doubts as to his loyal devotion to the cause. His old sympathies with the Northwest Company seem to have revived. He had received M’Tavish and his party with uncalled for hospitality, as though they were friends and allies, instead of being a party of observation, come to reconnoitre the state of affairs at Astoria, and to await the arrival of a hostile ship. Had they been left to themselves, they would have been starved off for want of provisions, or driven away by the Chinooks, who only wanted a signal from the factory to treat them as intruders and enemies. M’Dougal, on the contrary, had supplied them from the stores of the garrison, and had gained them the favor of the Indians, by treating them as friends.
Having set his mind fixedly on the project of breaking up the establishment at Astoria, in the current year, M’Dougal was sorely disappointed at finding that Messrs. Stuart and Clarke had omitted to comply with his request to purchase horses and provisions for the caravan across the mountains. It was now too late to make the necessary preparations in time for traversing the mountains before winter, and the project had to be postponed.
In the meantime, the non-arrival of the annual ship, and the apprehensions entertained of the loss of the Beaver and of Mr. Hunt, had their effect upon the minds of Messrs. Stuart and Clarke. They began to listen to the desponding representations of M’Dougal, seconded by M’Kenzie, who inveighed against their situation as desperate and forlorn; left to shift for themselves, or perish upon a barbarous coast; neglected by those who sent them there; and threatened with dangers of every kind. In this way they were brought to consent to the plan of abandoning the country in the ensuing year.